Brian Rudman

Brian Rudman is a Herald columnist looking at Auckland and national issues

Brian Rudman: City's rules make 'fan zones' greener than the event they're supporting

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Cartoon / Bromhead
Cartoon / Bromhead

It's hard to keep up sometimes. When the politicians first started talking of "fan zones" as part of the Rugby World Cup circus, I thought they'd coined a new expression specially for Auckland in 2011. But everyone has them.

Television sports websites do. So does MotoGP, Manchester United, Harry Potter and even Uganda Rugby. What I wager is original about Auckland's World Cup fan zones is the heavy emphasis on sustainability.

Auckland City Council's "request for expressions of interest" on supplying fan zones is so obsessed about sustainability that the brewer who comes up with a way of making beer out of "brown water" will be home and hosed.

Auckland City wants a supplier "of event services and infrastructure for fan zones and festival sites and other key activity areas", and we have until this Wednesday to get our proposals in.

Mind you, after reading the briefing document, I still haven't a clue what the organisers want - other than that it be sustainable. To underline this, 16 pages of the 24-page document is a probing questionnaire on the applicant's track record on this matter.

There are traps for the unwary. Promising to provide toilet paper from recycled paper and cardboard is the wrong answer. New Zealand wastepaper has to be shipped to Australia to be recycled, then shipped back in its new guise, so it's not considered a sustainable product. Instead, applicants have to produce certification that their paper and cardboard supplies come from a sustainably managed forest. To prove you're not cheating, you have to show a clear "chain of custody" of the material back to the forest floor.

Companies have to produce an independently audited and verified environmental management plan for their business and have "environmental champions" on staff to see the plan is followed. They also have to have an independently monitored "life cycle analysis" report, giving "the total environmental impact associated with the entire life cycle" of their product.

Also required is energy-usage data, historic and current, for the company. Plans using micro-generation technologies on site, including wind turbines and solar hot water heating, get greenie points.

Endless questions about carbon footprints, water-usage efficiency and managing storm-water discharge risks are asked.

Applicants also have to commit to using products made from "low-volatile organic compounds" so as "to reduce the potential for negative impact" and promise not to use anything that might contain or emit any substance "known or probably carcinogenic".

It goes without saying - well, it does say it - that you should use hybrid cars and bio-diesel trucks.

For good measure, the council then puts the squeeze on applicants by asking them to "clearly demonstrate and provide evidence of corporate ethical philanthropy in the Auckland region in the last financial year".

Now I know it's naughty to mock efforts to save the planet, but there is a certain irony in an international bunfight such as the Rugby World Cup trying to enforce stringent green conditions at the "light relief" end of this vast extravaganza. Basing a worldwide jamboree such as this in the most isolated nation on the globe is surely the antithesis of sustainability.

Yet are any of the rugby teams being asked to produce a sustainability profile checklist, with extra points granted for promising to row or sail themselves here?

Think how much smaller the International Rugby Board carbon footprint might be if the bloated world rugby hierarchy cancelled its first-class plane seats and watched the games on big screens at home instead. Ditto all the fans flying in from the four quarters of the globe.

As for what the fan zones entail, that's still a mystery. The cup website tells us "Auckland will create the ultimate festival of rugby with a dazzling programme of events" and that Queens Wharf "party central" will be "the main fan zone site, capable of hosting up to 20,000 people." Elsewhere, "fan zones will range from 'rugby cities' for up to 30,000 attendees with non-stop activities, right through to an unlimited number of 'rugby club' fan zones regionwide."

The expression of interest document calls for 1.2km of temporary fencing, 6.5km of interlocking steel fencing and 1.1km of water-filled barriers. Plus assorted big screens, portaloos, marquees, generators, skips et al. Each, no doubt, with its own personal lifecycle analysis attached, vouching for its sustainability.

- NZ Herald

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